Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Like Sand Through The Hourglass

Today I present some thoughts about birding under time constraints. As the saying goes, "Time is precious."

A wilting Firewheel Blanket flower
What would you do with the time if you knew you only had 1 year to do it all?

Juvenile Mississippi Kite will soon prepare for migration
 My New Year's challenge was to find as many birds in the US as I could while staying within the top 100 on ebird.  So far that goal has been realized, but the game gets harder and more exciting. I'm feeling the time constraints as we approach mid-September.  Migration isn't going to last forever and the year is now winding down. 

A view of Cataract Lake
Over this past weekend, we went up to Flagstaff, AZ.  It's still hot here in the desert and the upper elevations are much more preferable.  The birds, however, don't care and are moving through both the upper and lower elevations.  For me, it's a balancing act trying to juggle the time and routes taken to the various areas.  So with the time given, we did a "clean sweep" along a corridor to pick up as many new birds as we could for the national and state lists.  Granted none of them were life birds but it was fun playing detective. 

Prairie Dogs watch us while we bird near their homes
Meanwhile in other far away parts of the state, there are rare birds flying around canyon lakes and rivers. It's fun exploring new areas but it's also difficult picking and choosing which bird to go after! Places like Cataract and Ashurst Lakes had sounded interesting to me.  Plus I also wanted to check out these Río de Flag spots around Flagstaff.  All of these places proved to be exciting in their own ways.  

American Crows were everywhere around Lake Ashurst
 Sometimes the birding can seem tedious and like anything, it's good to spice it up a little.  No hotels or tents this time.  Instead we chose to stay in a teepee.  I love to plan trips like these.  It takes a little imagination to make something memorable.  And while our main purpose was to find Pinyon Jays, it was also to have a little fun. 

Our teepee "Kachina" at a Flagstaff Campground
 Inside the teepee it was comfortable and we slept well on our cots. The cool mountain air was so nice!

Have you noticed that birds inspire a lot of art around us?  Everywhere we go now, I see them on walls, beverage coasters, etc.  Last week I was called in for possible Grand Jury Duty!  

A Summer Tanager proves to be good luck!
I would have had to report to our court system twice a week until January.  Thankfully, I have a job that requires me to be with people everyday.  The judge was sympathetic to my situation and let me go. However, while I awaited his decision on that jury bench, I looked out at the colorless courtroom and discovered a bird calendar hanging on the wall.  Seeing that Summer Tanager stare back at me was a good omen.  

A Western Bluebird watches over Micheal
With migration under way, we have had to switch locales quite often.  From cool mountain breezes to the hot desert floors.

Hundreds of shorebirds and only 3 of these Stilt Sandpipers to be found!
So while we are searching for our target birds, I try to absorb everything around us because I don't know how long we'll stay in each area.  There are some spots where I wish we could spend more time. 

The grasses of Lake Cataract were full of Sparrows, Finches and other small birds.  The wind created this dreamy and sleepy feel
But the sand is slipping through that imaginary hourglass.  Every weekend is booked for the next two months.  

Near Lake Ashurst, the Pinyon Jays proved to be numerous and vocal
Once we found the Pinyon Jays, our time was up.  So on Saturday during sunset, I absorbed as much of this golden landscape as I could. 

Lesser long nosed bat
Two weekends ago, I started feeling the time constraints while observing the nectar feeding bats at the hummingbird stations. They, along with the migrating shorebirds and hummingbirds, are signs that fall will arrive soon. 

With views like this, it's a wonder we get any "work" done!
Over the next several weekends, I'll be up on Mt. Lemmon working on Hermit Warblers.  Then it's off to Globe, AZ for the AZFO conference with Gordon Karre.....and then Colorado.  Never a dull moment.  I am reminded, thanks to birding, that time is indeed precious.  

And while on the road, I am always thankful for these wonderful opportunities to explore.  Take your own trek and check out all the amazing birds around our world at Wild Bird Wednesday.  


  1. Thanks for sharing all these great shots.. super!

  2. wonderful views! love the lake cataract shots and the cute juvie kite! whew on the grand jury duty!

  3. Stunning photos, the kite and bat are wonderful captures.

  4. The view is awesome and the scarlet tanager is beautiful! I've never seen a bat up close (thank the Lord!), so it's neat to see the photo of one at the feeder!

  5. Beautiful photos! I'm glad we don't have grand jury duty here. :)

  6. A super looking Kite and love the Sandpiper too.

  7. Good luck with all the birds you hope to see - but scenery like that is a plus all by itself!

  8. I sometimes wish I did not work full time, just so I could do more birding.. The Grand Jury takes a lot of time, glad you were let go.. The Kite is cool and I love the cute prairie dogs.. It sounds awesome to sleep in a teepee. Beautiful photos and post.

  9. I wish I had the time and money to do a big year. I'll have to settle for a Big Day, for now.

  10. Busy, busy is Mr Chris!
    Prairies dogs have always been my favorites: they are the cleverest animals of all.

  11. Great post Chris and the images are just beautiful. Love the teepee's - what a fun idea :) Wonderful to see the bird art too. Good luck with all the adventures coming up :)

  12. Beautiful photos. I like that tepee.
    What a cool shot of the bats!

  13. I thought Flagstaff Arizona existed just in song' but there you are and still birding. Sleeping in a teepee is cool both metaphorically and in actuality. Enjoy Chris.

  14. A Mississippi Kite!!! One I haven't spotted yet. Jealous I am

  15. We almost stayed at Lake Cataract when we went up to the Canyon two years ago. But, when we arrived at dusk, the place was COVERED in mosquitoes (it was early August) so we moved on to another location. It looks like a lovely lake! How neat to get to stay in a teepee. What fun!

    I can tell you with certainty that time is precious...I am 62, and don't know where it all went. And with so much to worry about concerning our future now, I look at every single day as extremely precious. Each day is one more God has given us and I am grateful for every one.

    Thank you for your great comments on my posts! Every trip we have taken with our family each year since we moved here has been a priceless treasure. And I've taken many more trips through your blog as well! There were prairie dogs here as well as on our trip....bats here as well as in my laundryroom :-) Love seeing what you see and share! Have an awesome few months to the end of the year, and may your memories of 2014 be full.

  16. Oh gosh Chris - - you are a professional birder -- I am thrilled and honored that you 've taken time to visit my amateur (birding and blogging) efforts.

    We did love Mt Lemmon when we wintered in Arizona a couple of seasons. An amazing place with all the changes ... one of the places I'd love to go back to someday.

    Sigh, so many places, so many birds (and as you put it so well) so little time. (Of course at my age, that last takes on a different connotation from what you are saying.) But we soldier on!!

  17. Also, the bat was just amazing! That is the first time I've ever seen one on a feeder!

  18. What a great excuse to get to all those wonderful places! Hope you reach your goal.

  19. Had to come back again after viewing your post again. I would love to sleep in a teepee, so beautifully constructed.

  20. Well, that was one SCARY hurricane, I can tell ya! :-)

  21. Beautiful pictures Chris, thanks for sharing.
    I love them all, perfectly photographed.

  22. Nice post - one day we should share cool drink and talk about the merits of competitive birding!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  23. Great shots, Chris. Birding is fun isn't it.(pun intended:)
    Thanks for sharing.

  24. Hi Chris, just catching up.. really enjoyed this and last post. Have to say I thought I had a busy schedule but you take the cake, how do you pack sooo much into your year? Do you find sometimes it all catches up with you and you just have to sleep for a day or so, I had one of those today :)The black parrot in your last post smooching up to you :) looks like a Barnaby Black Cockatoo!

  25. Hi Grace! It is a Black Cockatoo! And one of the friendliest most loving ones I have met:)

  26. Oh Chris! You photos get better and better. The bat at the feeder is a very cool shot. Sandpipers are a favorite of mine. The seem to have some human qualities. Arrogance comes to mind, in Mexico, they just look at you, like, excuse me?. Nice to see you too kiddo!!!

  27. Wonderful set of birds. You have found lot of beautiful birds.

  28. Chris, I love the colors of Flagstaff! Those blues and golds are gorgeous! Birding takes you so many interesting places. I love the tepee too! Have fun!

  29. A bat at a hummingbird feeder? Never even thought that was possible :) Glad your life is jam-packed doing what you love. Awesome photos btw.

  30. I feel like I've taken a journey after reading your post. Pretty shots all. I'd love to catch a bat at a feeder. I was just thinking about how many different birds I've captured since linking up to WBW. And it's been fun to see what everyone else catches.


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